Friday, May 23, 2008

Jack Mildren Dies


Former Sooner QB and lieutenant governor Jack Mildren dies

by: GUERIN EMIG, World sports writer
5/22/2008 12:00 AM

NORMAN -- Jack Mildren, the quarterback who set in motion Oklahoma’s wishbone era of the 1970s and 80s, died Thursday of stomach cancer. He was 58.

Mildren was under center when Barry Switzer, then the Sooners’ offensive coordinator, switched from the veer to the wishbone early in OU’s 1970 season. The Sooners finished that season 7-4-1, then exploded for an 11-1 '71 season in which Mildren ran the offense to near-perfection.

That fall, the Sooners averaged a school-record 567 yards per game, with another record 472 yards, on a record 7.1 yards per carry, of that coming on the ground.

Mildren accounted for 1,289 rushing yards, another school record for quarterbacks, and 20 touchdowns. He finished his career with 2,025 yards on the ground, ranking behind fellow wishbone quarterbacks Jamelle Holieway, Thomas Lott and Steve Davis in that category.

By the end of his OU run, Mildren was his school’s career total yardage leader, with 5,117. He held the single-season school record for most 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback (nine), and the single-game record for total offense (323 yards against Iowa State).

Not bad for a onetime Abilene, Texas, high school wiz kid recruited for his right arm as much as his legs. In fact, Mildren once held OU’s single-season pass efficiency record, as well as the school’s career mark for touchdown passes until Cale Gundy broke that in 1993.

Mildren was named All-American at the end of the '71 season. He led the Sooners to a 40-22 rout of Auburn in the 1972 Sugar Bowl, then became the second-round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts. He spent the next three seasons playing defensive back for the Colts and New England Patriots.

By 1975, Mildren had moved on to a post-football career in oil and business. He was elected Oklahoma lieutenant governor in 1990, and held the position until 1994.

More recently, Mildren served as an executive with Arvest Bank. He also co-hosted a daily talk show on Oklahoma City all-sports radio station JOX 930 with Ron Thulin.

Mildren had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for his cancer.

“Things are going OK,” he said in a recent Associated Press story. “Every day is a new day. I’m fighting it pretty good. I have good hopes and the doctors have good hopes, and we’ll keep going at it.”

Though he’ll always be remember as one of OU’s football giants, Mildren accomplished nearly as much in the classroom. He was an academic All-American in 1971, and became the second Sooner inducted into the GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1998, joining Lee Roy Selmon. He also became the first Sooner to receive a post-graduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

Even though Mildren was a "Sooner" he is a huge part of Nebraska Football history as is everybody who played for Oklahoma but that 1971 team especially. Thoughts and Prayers to his family. He was one of the best.

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